The wild world of sports is an unpredictable one, with every individual sport laden with euphoria inducing highs and gut-wrenching lows, none more so than football. And if you follow football closely, you’ll know this to be true, given the current records of each of the 32 teams in the NFL. Teams predicted to be leading their divisions (Carolina Panthers) are, in fact, dead last; and entire divisions thought to have been a muddled mess (NFC East) are some of the best in the league. With so many surprising turnouts, it can be difficult to choose which one stands out above the rest. Luckily, this year, there is no contest. After so many had doubted the Cowboys’ success this season, they currently hold the best record in the entire league (11-1) and are on an eleven game winning streak! But can the Cowboys make it all the way? Or will they fizzle out?
In the third game of this year’s preseason, Cowboys’ tried and true quarterback, Tony Romo, broke a bone in his back and was declared, at the time, out at least until mid-season. This was a trying time for the Cowboys, who were poised to make a comeback after their dismal 4-12 finish last year. Not only did their star quarterback suffer a heartbreaking injury, but he was replaced by a rookie, Dak Prescott. To make matters even worse, their starting running back, Ezekiel Elliott, was also a rookie. Many analysts and experts cast off the seemingly doomed Boys.
Fast forward to today and Big D is sitting high and laughing in the faces of those same detractors. Dallas is not only first place in the NFC East, but the only team to have clinched a playoff berth thus far. In layman’s terms, the Cowboys are the best team in the NFL.
But can America’s Team continue their hot streak and not only make it to the Super Bowl, but more importantly, win it?
Both the rookie QB and RB have had phenomenal seasons, with Dak Prescott throwing for a total of 2,974 yards and Ezekiel Elliott leading the league in rushing yards, with 1,285 this season. They also have some serious talent in the form of wide receivers Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley and Jason Witten. All of this bubbling talent has come together to make for a tremendous season so far.
Minnesota Has Shown Dallas’ Weaknesses
But there are cracks in Dallas’ seemingly fool-proof design. For example, their pass rush, specifically against the Minnesota Vikings this past Thursday, is a bit lacking. For the past couple of weeks, most teams found themselves able to get right in the face of Vikings’ quarterback, Sam Bradford (with about three to four defenders), but Dallas couldn’t seem to follow suit. Even with five Dallas defenders all aimed directly at Bradford, he was given ample time in the pocket. They have to figure out a way to continue to put pressure on quarterbacks, especially as the season winds down.
The Cowboys are no exception to this rule. Their 11-game win streak is undoubtedly impressive, with a rookie QB and RB no less, but this only came directly after a season-opening loss. To the Giants. Who are in the same division. And are breathing right down Dallas’ neck with an 8-4 record. This could spell big trouble for the Cowboys, especially since they have yet to face the Giants again. It’s proven that Big D can also earn a Big L.
The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall
History has proven this age-old, simple adage time and time again. The ‘99 Jacksonville Jaguars, the ‘67 Los Angeles Rams and last year’s Carolina Panthers team all had outstanding seasons, but were never able to reach the ever-elusive Lombardi Trophy. And who can forget the ‘07 New England Patriots, who went undefeated in the regular season, only to lose it all in the final moments of Super Bowl XLII to the New York Giants. There are so many of these moments littered throughout the NFL’s long and storied history that it almost seems that the underdog is meant to win the Super Bowl. Regardless of whether or not that’s true, one thing is certain: Just because the Cowboys are dominating now, does not mean that they will win the one true game that matters.
Week 14 of the regular season is quickly approaching, and yet there is still a lot of football to be played. It is perfectly possible that the Cowboys can continue their success all the way through to Super Bowl LI (which coincidentally is being held in Texas), but it is just as possible for their remaining opponents to study Minnesota’s blueprint, expand upon it, and for the Boys’ playoff opponents, whoever they may be, to take advantage and prevent them from World Champion status.